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Surface Water Observation Satellite Launches Aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9

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A satellite jointly developed by NASA and French space agency CNES to measure the height of water in oceans, lakes and other bodies of water on Earth’s surface took off Friday aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from a launch complex at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

The Surface Water and Ocean Topography satellite will collect information to glean insights on the impact of global warming on rivers, lakes and reservoirs and provide researchers with data to help improve projects for floods and droughts, NASA said Friday.

The SWOT spacecraft comes with the Ka-band radar interferometer or KaRIn developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to help engineers measure the height of the water’s surface across two swaths at a time.

SWOT will provide vital information, given the urgent challenges posed by climate change and sea level rise,” said Laurie Leshin, director of JPL.

The space agencies of Canada and the U.K. contributed to the development of SWOT, which will begin collecting data in six months.

In addition to the KaRIn instrument, NASA has provided a GPS science receiver, a two-beam microwave radiometer, laser retroreflector and instrument operations for the spacecraft.

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